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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Where the trees wearing number places

Entering inner Tra Vinh town, the asphalted streets feature tiled sidewalks in the shape of squares and chessboards. They are lined with straight centuries-old trees. Though each street is given its specific name, the local people tend to name it after a tree species planted along pavements such as Hang Sao street, Hang Me street, Cay Dau Lon street… The town is home to 29 species of flora with millions of trees. Especially, there remain hundreds of sao (hopea odorata), dau (dipterocarpus alatus roxb), me (tamarind) trees of 80 to 100 years old.

It is not by nature that Tra Vinh has preserved such a vast number of perennial plants for hundreds of years. With ethnic Khmer people constituting two third of the population, most Tra Vinh residents are Buddhists. The town is circled by 141 Khmer pagodas, creating an ancient Khmer architectural belt. Leaning against the shadow of tower shaped pagodas is a looming forest that makes the manner of pagodas more ancient. The connection of pagodas and trees has deeply rooted in the people’s hearts and handed down through the generations. That has helped to create the habit of preserving, tending a cultivating plants as nowadays. 

Since the 17th century, the pagodas have come into being here. They are located on the high and dry grounds which are airy. Local Buddhists worship three patrons of tree, water and flame. Especially, the places where locate numerous trees are believed to house several of deities. They digger wells around their neighborhood for watering the trees, by the way for the whole village to access drinking water. They have gradually made a habit of growing shady trees along the paths leading to their villages. 

On the road to Luong Hoa commune on the outskirts of the town, remains the unique dau tree (dipterocarpus alatus roxb). The tree is so large that four persons putting their arms cannot embrace it. Its trunk is rough while its spiral grain projects in an oddly uneven way. The canopy of leaves stretches out like an umbrella shading a whole large area. It is locally called Dau Du tree. From 1998, the perennial trees have worn their own number plates which help the locals get to know their condition and inform the local tree management company when necessary. The company’s tree chart includes a system to keep track of the condition of each tree. The company also sets up a mail box and a hot line to get informed of tree conditions.

The present average density of trees in Tra Vinh town is 14.27m2 per capita, the highest among the Mekong Delta’s towns and cities.

(Mekong Delta Tourism Guidbook – VCCI Can Tho –